A final rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) gives hospitals and other providers more flexibility to improve their patients’ access to care.

Under the rule, released Dec. 7, OIG amended its safe harbors to the anti-kickback statute to add protection for hospital agreements that provide no-cost or discounted local transportation to established patients, or patients that select or initiate contact with the provider to schedule an appointment. The final rule provides clearer protections for essential hospitals to provide the type of assistance their patients need to access care and more fully realize the benefits of post-discharge treatment plans.

Local transportation is defined as 25 miles for patients in an urban area and 50 miles for patients in a rural area. In addition, the provider must take responsibility for all of the costs for the transportation services and cannot publicly market the services or subject patients using the services to marketing of health care services or products.

For questions, contact Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127.